In Seattle, young readers and their parents are learning about buses. A new program is called Touch-A-Bus Storytime. It started last month. The program is made possible by a partnership between Spokane County Library District and Spokane Transit Authority.
After reading a story to the children, a local bus driver took them on a tour of a bus parked in front of the library. The kids took turns sitting in the driver’s seat and honking the horn. The bus driver then took them all on a bus ride.
“Our goal is get kids comfortable with the bus and to eliminate the fear of the unknown,” said Beth Bousley, director of communications and customer service for Spokane Transit. “We also want to make sure parents understand how easy it is to ride the bus.”
(scld.org, spokesman.com, spokane7.com)
Moving Ahead: Electrify Caltrain
Gov. Jerry Brown, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi and other elected leaders gathered last week in California. They were there to celebrate the start of California’s four-year project to electrify a large portion of Caltrain service. The project will result in quieter and more frequent trains and less pollution.
Federal elected leaders were applauded for securing an estimated $953 million in federal funds for the roughly $2 billion project
The project will change Caltrain from diesel to electric power between San Francisco and San Jose. The first electric trains should begin running in 2021.
Lyft Launches Self-Driving Division
Last week, Lyft announced that it is creating its own division to work on autonomous car technology. The ride-sharing startup’s new research group will give Lyft a “hybrid system.” It will offer rides in cars driven by either humans or artificial intelligence.
The new division is operating out of a 90,000-square-foot “Level 5” lab in Palo Alto, California. Officials say they will hire several hundred engineers to work in the new division.
The lab’s name refers to the highest of the five tiers that the U.S. Department of Transportation uses to classify autonomous vehicles. A car that meets the Level 5 criterion would possess the ability to navigate roads at least as well as a human in all driving conditions.
The new division will expand the self-hailing startup’s role beyond current partnerships that include Google’s Waymo and General Motors. The new division will not change current partnership agreements..
(thehill.com, cnbc.com, techradar.com, siliconangle.com, dailydot.com)
Atlanta Starts Artbound
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority established an Artbound initiative last month. MARTA hopes to aesthetically enhance and integrate art throughout the rail system.
“From mosaics to murals, we are redefining the ridership experience,” said Keith Parker, general manager/CEO. “This new commitment to the arts allows us to engage our customers in a bold, exciting and often entertaining new way.”
Starting with FY2017, MARTA is allocating 1% of its $453.3 million budget for art-related programs, art-focused community activities and system-wide art restoration projects.
“Our approach is to install high-quality, captivating pieces that transcend various artistic genres and reflect, in some way, the vibrancy and history of the communities we serve,” said Katherine Dirga, new arts administrator.
MARTA will expand Artbound to include the performing arts this fall. The agency will hold auditions for musicians wishing to play and perform in different stations as part of a Talent on Track program.
(ajc.com, myajc.com, news.wabe.org, itsmarta.com)
Jim Wilson, BWAT General Manager